In the scurry to save Malala Yousafzai’s life, authorities nearly forgot about her two school friends who also sustained injuries in the targeted attack on Tuesday.
Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz were travelling in the same van as Malala when Taliban gunmen sprayed the vehicle with bullets in a targeted attack on the child activist who publicly spoke against the Taliban’s tyrannical stance on education for women.
It, however, took officials a few days before they realised Shazia and Kainat, who sustained superficial wounds in the neck and shoulder, respectively, deserved adequate medical attention too.
The girls’ parents said no elected representative or administrator bothered to enquire about their health initially. They added that instead of offering assistance, police and intelligence agencies continuously pursued them for information which could aid their investigation. The two girls are also prime witnesses of the attack.
“We were being troubled by the police again and again; nobody looked after us. They were not ready to listen to our complaints,” Kainat’s father, Mohammad Riaz told reporters.
Recounting the incident, 16-year-old Kainat, who is a grade 10 student at Khushal School and College, maintained the assault was over before they could realise what had happened.
“Two persons rushed towards us and asked us to be quiet. One of them asked about Malala and then started firing. They fired two shots at Malala, while one bullet hit Shazia’s neck and another hit me on my shoulder. I don’t know what happened next,” Kainat said.
Shazia, 15, is a grade 8 student at the same school. She was on her way back home after taking the second paper of her second term examinations.
She was said to be critically injured after a bullet grazed her neck. Soon after the attack, she was taken to the Saidu Sharif Teaching Hospital, but later shifted to Combined Military Hospital, Peshawar, where she is currently receiving treatment.
“At first, no one asked about my daughter as she lay helplessly in the local hospital,” Shazia’s father Ramzan told The Express Tribune.
“However, two days ago the government also shifted her to CMH, Peshawar. I am now completely satisfied with the government’s efforts.”
He said his daughter was recovering quickly, adding that extensive and adequate medical facilities were being provided to her. “She will be discharged from the hospital soon.”
Attracting harsh criticism from all quarters for its inability to provide due medical attention to the two girls, the provincial government on Saturday also sprung in to action.
Provincial assembly member Sher Shah Khan visited Kainat’s residence where he met the victim and her family.
“The provincial government is bound to take care of both the girls as they are also daughters of the nation. They will be provided with treatment free of cost and we will be there at their doorstep whenever they want,” Khan said.
He announced monetary compensation of Rs50,000 for Kainat on behalf of Khyber-Pakhtukhwa’s administration.
K-P Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain also paid her a visit and assured her father of unconditional support.
Meanwhile, the president and prime minister have issued statements enquiring about the girls’ health, saying they will not be abandoned at any cost and that the government will take care of all their needs.
Hospital sources said Shazia was shot in the shoulder. The bleeding would not stop due to which she was shifted from Swat to Peshawar. While she is being kept in the intensive care unit (ICU), her health is improving due to better health care. “As compared to Kainat, Shazia’s condition was critical… her medical treatment is continuing and she has started eating and walking… it is expected that she will be shifted to the surgical ward soon,”a source quoted the military surgeon on duty as saying.
President Asif Ali Zardari also issued special directives for the provision of best healthcare facilities to the two fellows of Malala Yousufzai.
(ADDITIONAL reporting by SUMERA KHAN IN ISLAMABAD)
Published in The Express Tribune, October 14th, 2012.